BY Kathleen Lucadamo DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, October 3rd 2010, 4:00 AM
Gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Cuomo vowed Saturday not to conduct a "campaign in the gutter" - then one of his top supporters declared Republican rival Carl Paladino an "utter nut job."
The attorney general's pledge comes after Paladino suggested last week that Cuomo had cheated on his high-profile ex-wife. Paladino offered no proof, then backpedaled.
Speaking with local Latino leaders who endorsed him Saturday on the lower East Side, Cuomo said, "These have been some truly negative, degrading comments and I have worked very hard not to go there."
Cuomo said he wouldn't stoop to Paladino's attacks.
"If [Paladino] wants to go there, he's going to go there alone," he said.
But Cuomo's backers didn't get the memo.
"He's a straight and utter nut job," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said of Paladino during the endorsement. "At some point, he'll accuse all of us of being from Mars."
Freddy Ferrer, one of Diaz's predecessors who was also at the announcement, said Paladino "raises the bar" on the phrase, "You have to be a little crazy to be in politics."
Cuomo has said his daughters with ex-wife Kerry Kennedy were upset by Paladino's charges while Paladino has said his 10-year-old daughter was in tears from being hounded by a reporter.
"A campaign is not supposed to be about the plight of Mr. Paladino or frankly the plight of Mr. Cuomo. The campaign is supposed to be about New Yorkers and their lives and their kids," Cuomo said.
Paladino criticized Cuomo Saturday for not scheduling a debate but Cuomo declared, "We will have a debate and I'm looking forward to it."